28 January 2012

What shall I cook for dinner tonight?★Cookpad★ All about the Japanese recipe

Here is an equation: 'Cook' + 'notepad' = ... that is, 'Cookpad', the biggest recipe search engine and recipe posting website in Japan. (Cookpad HP: http://cookpad.com/, Japanese language)
It was opened in 1998 and it contains over 1 million recipes which were posted by Cookpad users. It is said one out of two Japanese women in 30's (as of January 2012) are the Cookpad users. The key words for this site are: want to 'eat it', 'make it' and respond 'it was yummy'.
I am one of the '1/2 Japanese women in 30's' Cookpad users'. I thought why I tend to look at Cookpad myself.
It is very simple and easy-to-use recipe site: 'search the recipes' and 'show your recipes'; no celebs to show fancy recipes but the all recipes were posted the Japanese women next door; and what I like most is the 'photo report' for each recipes.
I sometimes look at a recipe book and follow exactly what it is written but it doesn't turn out as I wished or as the recipe book showed. In 'photo report' in Cookpad, there are reviews from users who tried a recipe and can post a review with a photo how it turned out. Even a title of recipe says 'Simple & easy cook xxx ' but the followers' response are not always positive and the photos the followers uploaded are sometimes far too different from the recipe which was shown in Cookpad recipe site. It implies it is not always 'Simple & easy cook'. It is so REAL and reliable!!!
For your interest, I tried to search 'Carbonara' in Cookpad and it showed 3,218 recipes as of Jan. 28 2012. 'Carbonara in our family', 'Carbonara without cream', '☆Easy-to-cook☆ Carbonara’, 'Cheese lovers' Carbonara', 'Healthy Carbonara with Chinese reddish' etc. etc.

Here is the 'Cookpad' English site 'Cookpad it' (HP: http://cookpad.it/).
It is not as sophisticated as the Japanese original site from my personal point of view but it is a good start to expand for overseas viewers.
Apparently, there is an English Cookpad free application in iTunes which you may follow:
What shall I cook for dinner tonight? No worries at all, just look at Cookpad!

25 January 2012

Japan's innovation - Pilot the Frixion Pen

If you have ever lived in Japan, you must have used the pens manufactured by the Japan's largest pen maker and a well known brand, called PILOT. The FriXion pen, the gel ink rolllerball, and FriXion Colors, felt-tip markers are one of my favorite items at the moment, (In Japanese: http://www.pilot.co.jp/frixion/info/, in English http://www.pilotpen.us/FriXion.aspx).
The Frixion pens are smooth and innovative, erasable with the thermosensitive ink and a small rubber at the end of the pen.
I found they were especially handy when my child had to write a number of Christmas cards and New Year cards. Write, erase without crumbs and rewrite! It can be easily rubbed off even by little children. Worth try it!

22 January 2012

How? Why? Science Story book for children

'Why is the sky blue?!' 'Why birds can fly?' There are a number of questions that children may ask you but it is not always easy to answer appropriately.
Here is a great book that both children and parents enjoy reading together, called 'Naze? Doushite? Kagaku no Ohanashi' (Why? How? Stories for Science) It is written in Japanese and a series of books are designed for each school years.

There are about 40 short stories about body, living creatures, food and earth and it takes about 10 minutes for children to read each stories.
I like the stories of 'why is poo brown?' 'Why we shouldn't put tap water in golden fish bowl?' 'How milk turns to yogurt?' etc. etc.
It is highly recommended book for children!

20 January 2012

Influenza A virus is widespreading in Japan January 2012

The very first snow fell for this winter in Tokyo today. It did not rain for more than a month and it has been so dry. In other words, it is a season for parents to worry about influenza.
In this week, many schools/classes were temporarily closed due to wide spreading influenza.
My daughter was one of them sadly and she is struggling to fight back to flu A type although she had a vaccination late last year.
When a person gets a flu virus, it was common that medicine called Tamiflu has been prescribed in Japan. However, it seems there was a problem ... see the related article http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20090605a5.html.
Surprisingly, the alternative medicine has been introduced a couple years ago, called inavir, which was prescribed to my 8 years old daughter today. http://www.thepharmaletter.com/file/99217/daiichi-sankyo-launches-flu-drug-inavir-inhaler-in-japan-expands-deal-with-arqule-gets-favorable-patent-ruling-against-lupin.html
You have to breathe in this medicine, inappropriate for a little child who cannot breathe hard, but it is handy that you only do it once.
I have little information about this medicine but it is something you would better know.

18 January 2012

'kuku' reading

8 years old daughter (Year 2 in Japanese primary school) read out the 'kuku' (times table)!

15 January 2012

'kuku' - Japanese unique way of learning the times table

I was curious how English speakers learn the multiplication (i.e. times table) at school. Apparently, there are similar ways of remembering the times table with rhythm like 'kuku' - the Japanese way of memorizing the times table but it is more common that children lean the times table by knowing some patterns and tricks of multiplication. For instance, by using the number line, children learn the 2 times table as the number moves 2,4,6,8, on the line as well as they can easily count by two's (skip count). Next, children learn the 5 times table because it is easy to see a pattern that the last digit always goes 5, 0, 5, 0・・・. Children remembers 'squares'(multiply a number by itself) like 1x1=1, 2x2=4, 3x3=9 4x4=16 etc. at early stage of the multiplication lesson.
In contrast, 'kuku' is the Japanese unique way of leaning the times table by heart with rhythm. It is just like a chant. Keep chanting the times table over and over and people naturally learn it by heart without knowing or leaning the patterns of multiplication. When Japanese children become Year 2 (age 7 - 8), the main curriculum in Math is remembering 'kuku'. Children bring homework everyday, like 'remember the 2 times table by repeating 'kuku' for 10 to 20 times today'. Surprisingly, children master one times tables after a few days practice. It is also a challenge for children whether to pass the 'kuku' test at school. It is the competition who becomes the first person to pass the test and who is the last one to pass it in the class. Obviously, none wants to be the very last person to master the 'kuku' in the class so children tend to make efforts at school and home.
Is there any help for non-Japanese children who want to learn 'kuku' in Japanese?
There are 'kuku' charts available in Japanese but I could not find a good one in English, i.e. in alphabet.
So, why not try making it as the above.
I hope people find it useful!

11 January 2012

Skipping rope fanatic

I might have put a sensational blog title but PE lessons based on the Japanese primary school curriculum emphasize on 'skipping/jumping rope' in past and present.

Unlike in other countries where children enjoy the techniques and performance of skipping ropes like criss-cross, EB (front-back cross), Toad etc, Japanese children are not taught how fast or how beautifully to do skipping ropes, but how long they can continue the basic jumps, double under, i.e. how patient children can be.

I am afraid it is not my cup of tea but poor my little daughter who is having a hard time at PE.
I asked my friends as well as I researched the word-of-mouth mums network and I came up with a product as the above picture.

Asics is one of the best Japanese sports goods manufacturers as well-known with Onitsuka Tiger shoes, and it invented the super jumping ropes for children and grown-ups and they are brilliant.

(From ASICS HP: http://www.asics.co.jp/recreation/jr/tech, Japanese language only for products information)

As I looked up more ropes in Amazon and other online shopping sites, there are a few more high-tech skipping/jumping ropes are available in Japan. That would make kids' life easier at school.

By the way, above high-tech skipping ropes are available from 700 to 1,000 yen depending on size and the speciality on jumping techniques. I bought cheep but colourful skipping ropes in pink, purple, yellow to attract my kid. It was good enough in my old days but it is just a plastic rope which is useless in modern primary school here in Japan.


10 January 2012

'MOCO MOCO' winter fashion

The fluffy, furry and cute looking fabric is popular in this winter among young Japanese girls including my 8 years old daughter.
It is called 'moco moco'(fluffy in Japanese) fashion and it is available for pajamas, room shoes, leg warmers and socks, gloves, jumpers, etc. etc.
They are pretty affordable and as cheep as 105 yen for small accessories as above picture in '100 Yen Shop' like Daiso (http://www.daiso-sangyo.co.jp/english/).
Not only 'moco moco' makes your body warm but makes you cozy and feel happy as 'must-have-one-of-those' for this winter.

09 January 2012

'ICHINEN HOKKI' 一念発起 - Restart with determination

A Happy New Year 2012!
I hope everyone has started another fabulous year?!
Well, here is my new years resolution: restart the blog for 'Mums and Kids★Japan'.
I started this blog in April 2011 soon after I came back from London where I lived with my family for two years. I was overwhelmed with the speed and information available in Japan which I had missed while I was in overseas. I was just too busy for catching up and learning new stuff and was unable to keep updating the blog.
In this bright new year, I have determined to share lots of stories which people might find interesting and useful, and hopefully it will give lots of smile to YOU:-))